Tuning In

Tuning in is an introductory movement for Tai Chi or Chi Kung to establish movement, coordinate movement and breath and to quieten the mind.

The first movement is raising and lowering the arms, moving from the Tan Tien and out from there to the finger tips. With feet shoulder width apart, The hands should drop and you rise up and then rise at the end of the movement as is tailing and following the movement. Raise the hands only as high as the heart centre. As you sink the fingertips should be raised and drop at the end of the sinking. It should feel as though the back of the hands slide up a pane of glass as you rise and the fingertips slide down the glass as you sink. Breathe in as you rise and out as you sink. Start by establishing slow, smooth, graceful movement, rising and sinking. Then coordinate with the breath and finally quieten and focus the mind. Overall about 6 times rising and sinking.

Then raise and lower the Chi, similar movement rising, but at the top of the rise draw the arms backwards, as if through the heart centre and then sink, pushing down with the hands. This is very grounding and should be done with an element of strength as you pus down. Repeat three times.

Finally stand feet shoulder width apart with arms extended down to the sides, like a triangle, as if touching the earth. Root into the earth, establishing the earth connection with the Tan Tien. Feel drawn up to the light, smiling to the eyes to establish the connection to the light. Open the heart, feel as though the heart is the balance between the Tan Tien and the eyes and that energy is extended from the heart, down the arms, into the hands and fingertips. When you feel settled and balance start the exercise.

At the start of the class we stand with the feet together, arms down by the side in order to prepare for the coming session and we stand with the feet apart before starting chi kung or tai chi to prepare ourselves. There are five main parts to this.

Relax the body – just let go and feel the body relax as much as possible. It should feel as though the weight is being pulled down and the muscles relax. A good posture should be maintained, feet firmly on the floor, head drawn up, chin tucked in, shoulders open.

Quieten the Mind – Leave behind all the busy activity of your life. Affirm to yourself that this time is for you.

Connect to the Earth – There are two main energy gates, the first is through the base centre to the Earth. Feel a good physical connection between the feet and the earth. Imagine yourself rooted to the ground. Imagine the energy rising from the roots, through the soles of the feet (the bubbling spring), through ankles, knees and hips and into the Tan Tien.

Connect to the Light – The second main energy gate is through the crown. Feel yourself drawn up as though to a light above the crown. Feel that light shine down and connect behind the eyes. Feel the warmth of the smile in the eyes.

Open the Heart – This provides a sense of balance and wholeness. Focus the mind and the breath on the heart centre.

Ideally all these qualities will be maintained throughout the session. They are all basic qualities of Tai Chi. Most times as the session progresses these qualities will deepen i.e. you will become more relaxed, more focused, more connected and more centred. As you deepen into the qualities of Tai Chi in practice and in life, this preparation will become more immediate and deeper. It is said that a Tai Chi master will be able to tell the level of students development just from observing this one opening stance.